Author: Sindiwe Magona
Publisher: Beacon Press
Sindiwe Magona's novel Mother to Mother explores the South African legacy of apartheid through the lens of a woman who remembers a life marked by oppression and injustice. Magona decided to write this novel when she discovered that Fulbright Scholar Amy Biehl, who had been killed while working to organize the nation's first ever democratic elections in 1993, died just a few yards away from her own permanent residence in Guguletu, Capetown. She then learned that one of the boys held responsible for the killing was in fact her neighbor's son. Magona began to imagine how easily it might have been her own son caught up in the wave of violence that day. The book is based on this real-life incident, and takes the form of an epistle to Amy Biehl's mother. The murderer's mother, Mandisi, writes about her life, the life of her child, and the colonized society that not only allowed, but perpetuated violence against women and impoverished black South Africans under the reign of apartheid. The result is not an apology for the murder, but a beautifully written exploration of the society that bred such violence.
Review: I read this book during my senior year of high school (last school year). It was the book my english teacher chose as the last book we'd read for the year. It is based on a real life event of a white woman being murdered in South Africa during apartheid. Its not the exact story, some things have been fictionalized to tell the story. In Mother to Mother, the mother of one of the murders writes to the mother of the murdered white girl (Amy). She talks about her life and how she was raised and how her son was raised in the same way, to hate the white people because most of them we're trying to oppress the black south africans. She explains how he wasn't a bad kid, he was just acting out because of how he was raised. The mother of one of the murders actually takes you back to when she was a child, to when apartheid began and explains how because she was raised a specific way her son ended up being raised with those same beliefs too. Yes, this was a school book but it was actually a really good book. It really gave you a sense of how things were in South Africa at the time of apartheid, of how bad the government treated the black south africans and why they grew up hating every white person they saw even if that person was trying to help them like in the case of Amy. This book gave you a pretty good history lesson with a look inside at how bad life was during that time. I know its not every teens typical read but I'd suggest it to everyone, because even though its based on an event in history it also brings you into the life of the mom and her son. There are many moments when you can feel the moms emotions and can kind of sympathize with her. I'd really suggest people read it.